Success is not a matter of coincidence, luck or misfortune. Success is learnable. And every setback, every mistake, every failure can be an important step on your road to success.
Being Successful (Mis)Step after (Mis)Step
Sources of inspiration
3 Steps to success
Be always prepared to fail. Or better: to fall. To fall forward.
Finding sources of inspiration/motivation
We are always on the hunt for new sources of motivation and inspiration.
No matter if it's the philosophy of life of someone we look up to, a shared facebook picture, a coaching program or book - or even a graffiti on a wall. You are surrounded by motivating and inspiring thoughts. You just have to accept them and make them part of your life and daily routine.
Jerry Seinfeld once said that the biggest fear of people is public speaking. Followed by the fear of their own death. Therefore, people would prefer lying in the coffin to doing the graveside speech.
The secret to success is to accept that you will make mistakes. Even the worst mistakes help you to move forward. They are a valuable source of wisdom.
Mistakes should not be condemned, but we should accept them and integrate them into our lives and careers.
Three Steps to Success
Every step is an important one. "Smart steps" have to be carefully planned. It is not about reaching the goal with one step. Smart steps are steps that do not lead directly to the goal but secure the road ahead.
Considering the possibility of failure and not using up all available resources are characteristics of a smart step.
In other words: A "smart step" is a well-planned step that also considers potential problem and solution scenarios.
Being objective. Take a step back and analyze your progress and missteps. What can you learn from that situation? Can you derive a formula from it?
If necessary, make changes to the original plan.
Processing what you have learned. The process of trying, analyzing and integrating is the basis of many successful careers. What is important is to never give up. Successful people do not necessarily make fewer mistakes or suffer fewer losses. A successful person never loses their enthusiasm and most importantly perseverance.
Passionate Perseverance is the Key
Failure can cost a lot of nerves and money. Still, you have to be prepared to repeat the process of trying, analyzing and integrating as many times as it takes until you are satisfied with the result.
Well planned failure is indeed an effective recipe for success. Failure is an important step to self-realization and success.
Why you are unhappy, unsuccessful, sick or overweight
In this article, we will be looking at the single most common and deep-rooted cause of our problems. Problems like in example:
I don´t advance in my career
I did not hit my targets
I hate my job
I am lonely
I am overweight
I am not successful
My relationship s... is suboptimal
Most importantly, this article will introduce some ideas on how to solve that problem.
Ok, let´s go!
Let´s look into the head of an average person for a moment. We will overhear thoughts like:
Oh man. How many diets did I fail?
How many times did I want to get more organized or
Manage my time better
Wanted to workout / meditate
Implement ideas from a training
End addiction or bad habits
and so on ...
"Damn! I am just not persistent. I would love to be determined and persevere. I want to be an achiever. And I know the drill. I am trained, I attend seminars. I read books about it. I KNOW what I should do.
But I rarely manage to implement this knowledge as habits into my life. It works for a few days until the ideas get lost in my regular routine.
I am sick and tired of that. Sometimes, I feel like a real idiot and a loser."
That happens to all of us...
We all have had these or similar thoughts. Because it is hard to be persistent, resilient and pull through.
Because our goals and our long-term behavior often do not go hand in hand. As if our behavior had its own agenda.
We KNOW what we have to do. But we don´t do it. Or we just do it unless the initial motivation fades. Like a straw fire, our enthusiasm burns hot at first to leave only cold ashes behind.
And it is frustrating, that we start many projects that we do not see through. Not only, because it is a waste of energy.
Even more so because every time we do not persevere, the concept that we are weak manifests in our mind a little bit more. We might even consider ourselves a failure.
Which is not true. You are not a failure because you failed. You are only missing one skill.
Abandoning goals is a curable disease
What many people are lacking is perseverance. And a lack of perseverance is a bit like a virus. A sneaky, devious virus. And this virus has a massive impact on our lives. A very negative impact.
We cannot see that virus. We do not think about it in everyday life because there are no symptoms like a cough or a rash.
Nevertheless, this virus has an extensive negative impact on our well-being, our health, our career and life success, as well as our relationships.
This virus shortens our life span, makes us sick and makes us fail.
Because we just don´t do the things that are important to our happiness, our success and our physical and mental health. Even though we know what we should do.
People who exercise on a regular basis life longer and healthier. We know that. And we know that that's what we should do.
We know we have to make those cold calls to find new prospects, but we don't.
We also know that regular meals and good food are the foundations for longevity and good health. We know what we have to do. but we don´t do it.
Not because we are too stupid. Surely not.
Short-term defeats long-term unless we fight it
In a race of a candy bar and a carrot, the carrot wins most of the time. The television beats the yoga pants.
In our decision-making process, short term rewards weight heavier than the long-term effects of our behavior.
Short-term happiness weights way heavier than the disadvantage that our behavior will have in a week, in a month or in a year.
What do I care today if I get a heart attack in 10 years because I eat wrong?
The sales guy who knows missing his quota is not worth that one moment of relief over not having to do those cold calls.
Short-term reward beats long-term nearly every time if we do not consider certain things.
That is why it is so hard to implement behavioral changes and form new habits.
Yes, it is hard. But it is possible. You can do it. There are people who manage to act responsibly even though temptation lurks at every corner. That is not so much a matter of strengths and willpower. It is more a matter of a clever and planned approach.
Success habits can be trained
But how can you train and learn to act responsible and in your own best interest? It´s not like it´s a field of study at Harvard University. Even though there could hardly be a more valuable field of study.
We never learned how to implement life-serving behavior. We can make short-term changes with the help of our willpower. For a few weeks or even a few months. But rarely in the long run.
Willpower does not work long-term.
Make a guess. How many trade mills are standing somewhere in the US unused? How many self-help books sit on a shelf unread?
Our life threatening urge for quick results
Health, happiness, and success are the result of a certain long-term behavior. Sadly. Because most of us are impatient. We want results. Right away.
Advertisements reflect that brutally:
Make 200k in a week
Lose 10 pounds in 3 days
Write a novel in 7 days
Revive your marriage in 2 weeks
Overcome addiction in 2 days
We are talked into thinking that it´s quick, easy and effortless. And we fall for it because we want to believe it´s true.
So we often fall for dubious promises and set ourselves up for disappointment and failure.
Wish and reality are very different things.
This is why it is important that we tame our impatience and allow ourselves the time we need to form new habits or retrain our brains - for the sake of long-term results.
Patience and persistence are the keys to heavens doors
Long-term success is rarely created on the fly. Success is the result of endurance, commitment, discipline, repetition, and failure.
That is the nasty and inconvenient truth. New skills and habits are formed by repetition. Repetition is the mother of learning. It takes AT LEAST 80-90 days for new neural networks to form.
No matter if we want to hit our target, lose weight or want to write a novel.
To achieve a goal we need durability, toughness, and endurance.
If we look at the resumes of the most successful people, we rarely find "easy street" on it. Most of the time, they will tell you that it took them a while until they got where they are now. They will tell you that they had to overcome failure and setbacks.
For lasting career success or to lose and keep the weight off you have to form habits. Enthusiasm is a great starting point but will not be enough in itself.
A novel is the result of someone sitting down every day and writing a few pages. The career of an author is based on writing one book after the other.
To become an NBA player you have to train, train, train and train more.
Neuroscience offers THE solution
We all know what´s the right thing to do on a conscious level. We want to be successful, healthy and happy. Yes, we were BORN to be happy.
But we wished it was different. Easier, faster, effortless.
Let´s face the music: That´s not how it is. The good things in life require permanent attention.
But if we force ourselves for a certain time to do the right things they become a habit. Once something is a habit, it´s not a stretch anymore but an automatism.
That is why for some people it seems so easy to do the right things. They have made perseverance already a habit. Discipline and commitment are what carries you through your bad days when you just do not feel like following your plan.
Making changes that allow for implementing new habits takes longer than companies want to make us believe. It takes at least 90 days and can take up to a year. That depends on the "difficulty" of the new behavior.
To form a new habit is hard indeed. But once you did that it becomes easy and you will do what´s good for you automatically and effortless.
Often we are being told: Listen to your intuition. Follow your guts. And that is good and true. Just not when it comes to implementing new habits.
Our intuition is not a good helper for achieving goals. Let´s look at a typical process of an intuition-based approach to implementing changes:
The starting point
We are dissatisfied with something. Our career or life success or our weight.
We decide to make changes. A resolution.
The resolution motivates us so strongly that we start to change things. We change our behavior. Break the routine. At this point, we believe our enthusiasm will be enough to keep this up infinitely.
As soon as the initial enthusiasm fades (and that happens within as little as 2-3 weeks in 90 % of all cases), we will fall back to our old behavioral patterns.
We are back to where we started. We failed. We even might feel like a failure which causes a dent in our self-esteem. The next time we will have lowered expectations towards ourselves, making it even harder to achieve our goal.
How often did that happen to you? It happened to me many times.
The problem? We did not make a plan for how we can see it through. Because we believed that our initial enthusiasm will be enough.
The problem is not that we do not know what to do long-term. We just do not know how we can form new habits and implement new beliefs that enable us to achieve our goals and make long-term changes.
We are lacking supporting measures that carry us after the initial 21 days. Measures, that make sure that we stay on track after 3 months, after 6 months and after a year.
"I made it" is the most rewarding feeling. "And now I know I can achieve nearly anything and everything."
Why is goal achievement so easy for some?
Yes, there are people who manage to stay on it and see things through effortlessly. But that´s only a very small amount of people. Maybe 2-3 %.
These people are committed (vs. interested). They are resilient. They achieve more in business and in life.
They have been conditioned in early childhood to be tough and resilient and it became their personality. Or they have already become masters at goal achievement.
That is the 2-3 % of people. Then there is the rest of us.
The rest of us has to work to get there. And there are not a lot of effective supporting tools. Most tools tell us what we already know - what to do. But they fail at teaching us how to implement the behavioral changes.
You are just someone who did not yet have the supportive tool that allowed him to develop the resilience needed to achieve goals.
You are not weak. You just did not train and develop the skill of perseverance.
It is not a matter of willpower. It is a matter of knowledge and training. It is not mainly a question of inner strength. Also, often we are more patient at developing motoric skills than changing our brain patterns. Why would changing your success level be faster than learning to repair a car? Or mastering a computer game?
Long-term perseverance is a matter of commitment, knowledge, training and repetition.
You have to decide that the skill of perseverance is important enough to you to make changes.
You have to understand how developing perseverance works. What hinders you and which tools support you.
Then you have to learn, train and repeat (repeat, repeat) until it becomes a skill. Until you have formed new neural patterns that result in changed behavior.
You are not a failure if you failed at achieving your goals. You are just a person like any other person. You could see yourself as a student.
A student of perseverance.
Do you take the challenge?
The difference between successful and unsuccessful people? Commitment. The successful (committed) ones do what is necessary. The unsuccessful (interested) ones do what is convenient.
How can you develop from a sprinter to an endurance runner?
Step 1 Make a motivating decision
Decide which behavioral pattern you want to change over a period of 3 -12 months. It is important that you focus on clear, verifiable behavior.
"Hitting my goals", "getting rich" or "losing 10 pounds" is not enough. Commit to which food you will eat and which you will not eat. How many exceptions are allowed? Get concrete and detailed.
If you are hesitant to do so it means that you are not committed and will most likely fail.
In that case, save yourself from just another hit to your self-esteem and preserve the energy.
Step 2 Define, analyse and eliminate your personal success blockers
Why are you doing some things regularly while you neglect others?
There are circumstances that make us succeed and circumstances that make us give up and fail. The most common factor is fear. Fear of pain and failure as well as fear of success.
What helps is a daily reminder on our goal. Very helpful is to divide the goal into concrete, easy action steps. That way the diffuse goal becomes a crystal clear goal with traceable steps and rules.
Another potential success blocker is other people. That can be your boss, relationship or you might just hang out with a crowd that does not share your ambition.
Also, we need to be prepared for setbacks and dry periods that we will face with every goal worth achieving.
It is about understanding your personal + and - factors. The + factors that make it easier for you to stay committed and the - factors that make it harder.
Let´s say you are a sales guy and want to generate a better pipeline. Your Manager implements weekly sales meetings. That´s a + factor.
Or let´s say you want to drink less alcohol. And your friends offer you booze on a daily basis "Just one." "Beer is not really alcohol.". That´s a - factor.
Step 3 Plan it
First you need to analyze and understand what your personal + and - factors are. Being aware of them helps a bit in itself. When a - factor comes by you can be like: "Oh, hey, good to see you again. I know your game and I don´t really have time to play right now."
Try to eliminate as many - factors as you can and strengthen the + factors.
Mike Bosworthput it into easy, powerful words: "Who is not part of the solution is part of the problem." Seek out those people who support your success and try not to be around those who do not. Sometimes people´s level of support can be influenced by making them aware that they hinder your success.
The harder the goal and the more massive the needed behavioral changes the more supportive tools you will need.
That can be through books, friends, training or a personal coach.
Use the + factors as triggers
Let´s say you want to write 500 words for your new book every day. A + factor could be that you ask a friend to ask you every day if you have done it.
Again, the harder the goal the more supportive measures and help you will need. There is no shame in asking for help.
Supportive tools are in example:
Detailed planning and preparation
There are a lot of other potential measures. Most of the time, 2-3 are enough. And if you use them wisely, they will support you in 1 month, in 3 months and in 1 year.
It is about creating an environment in which you can reliably do what you went out to achieve. Even if you are in a bad mood or you don´t want to. A good plan and discipline are friends.
A system that makes you succeed
If you consider these ideas you will most likely achieve your goals. And that is what makes a successful person. He achieves what he wants by doing what he had planned.
You can do that if you approach perseverance step by step.
You can become a master of perseverance and implement any behavioral changes you want. You might even surprise yourself with how easy it is for you to implement change.
Perseverance is THE superpower
Perseverance is a super power with nearly unlimited fields of application:
Achieving career goals.
Living a healthy lifestyle.
Uncluttering your mind or house to feel better.
Daily meditation that make you more relaxed and capable of dealing with life.
Regular training to enhance your skill set for better chances in your career or personal life.
Investment of time into projects that are important to you. Hobbies or work projects.
Whatever it will be for you: You can learn perseverance and make your life better, more beautiful and abundant.
Decide on one thing that will enhance your quality of life long-term. Don´t go too big at first. You know that patience, commitment, and endurance are important.
Decide, just as an experiment, to see that one thing through for 3 months.
Think about what helped you in the past to persevere and what hindered you.
Make a plan and define your personal + and - factors and how you can use them.
Another success blocker is the sense of urgency.
Most of the time if we do not do it right away we do not do it at all.
Now is a good time to start.
The three most helpful tools:
NeuroWisdom101 - Leading Neuroscientist Mark Waldman put his know-how into a life-changing product.
You probably have heard those tips for uncluttering your mind before. But while many people feel stressed, only very few follow these tips in everyday life.
It is easy to lose the overview and keep your mind fresh. Every year, new communication devices crawl into our lives. In addition to our phones, we now have smartphones. We receive emails, text messages, video calls and spend a lot of time in company intranets and on social media.
New tasks are assigned to us via project management or workflow tools at a higher speed than ever before. Even the energy we use for sorting out irrelevant messages is immense.
While nobody expected us to react immediately when he sent us a letter, immediate reaction and action is expected after sending an email.
In the past, we had one conversation at a time. Especially at the workplace, we are involved in several conversations at the same time.
For our brains, this accumulation represents a challenge.
Reason enough to have a look at the newest neurological studies. I have summarized the best tips for you:
Keeping things tidy
I am sure you heard statements similar to: "Who holds order is just to lazy to search". "A genius reigns the chaos".
While that might be true for geniuses for the rest of us it is not. Keeping things in order and tidy helps us to focus better.
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience explained that a tidy workplace is less frustrating and tiring than an untidy one.
Frustration and tiredness decrease your ability to concentrate and increase your level of susceptibility to errors.
Also, many people believe that the state of your workplace reflects the state of your mind.
Conclusion: Keep your workplace tidy and in order because it is good for your ability to focus and concentrate.
Do you sometimes give in to a craving for sweets? If you give in to a temptation or not depends on your level of self-control.
Just like a battery gets weaker, your amount of self-control decreases during the day. Sleeping recharges your "battery". The more rested you are the higher your level of self-control will be.
Most people, especially those in managerial positions, do not sleep enough. Do you know how much sleep you need to recover? If not use the next extended weekend to find out. Go to bed as soon as you get tired and do not set an alarm.
Conclusion: The importance of a sufficient amount of sleep cannot be stressed enough. It is the basic prerequisite for staying physically and mentally healthy and delivering our best performance.
Spend your lunch break in a nice park or if possible in the countryside. That implies you do take breaks... Hint: A lunch with a customer is not a break (;
Our brain cannot relax in busy, loud or crowded environments. Researchers found that a walk in the park changes your brain patterns to "relaxed state".
Conclusion: Take breaks in quiet places, ideally in nature. Most of the time, taking breaks pays off by increasing your effectiveness.
Identify sources of stress
Our surroundings can be a source of stress without us being aware of it. Do you in example look up every time someone walks past your office door? This reduces your ability to concentrate.
Often it is small things that stress us that we do not recognize as stress factors. Therefore, it is important that we identify and eliminate stress factors in our environment.
Small changes can go a long way and relieve our brain big time.
I noticed that a stress factor for me was checking my cell phone whenever a message came in. Even when I was in the middle of something else. I stressed myself and lost time picking up the thread where I left off.
Conclusion: Identify sources of stress and apply strategies to reduce them.
If you feel tired and weak after work try one or the other tip. A small change can make a big difference.
Mother nature provides everything we need to stay healthy and fit.
Nuts have proteins which aid in building and repairing our body tissues. All kinds of nuts are known to contain phytosterols, antioxidants and unsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids are essential for normal functioning of the brain.
Nuts are a good source of neuroprotective compounds as well as minerals, melatonin, folate, antioxidants and vitamin E which improve the brainpower.
People under a lot of stress can benefit from consuming nuts. Also, research has shown that especially walnuts improve brain health by improving inferential reasoning in children.
Nuts should be eaten in moderation and raw. If possible chose organic nuts. Nuts are not a low calorie food.
Let´s put the spotlight on one of my second favorite nuts:
Cashews contain minerals such as zinc and magnesium - excellent brain-boosters. Magnesium is vital because it has been shown to improve learning skills and regulate sleeping patterns. Zinc is beneficial for the brain because low levels of the mineral can cause depression.
Cashews also contain vitamin B (thiamine), which has shown to boost better moods in women and mental energy and better moods in women, in addition, vitamin E when in low levels is linked to poor cognition.
Vegetables and Fruits in general
Vegetables and fruits help to remove free radicals from our body because they are good sources of antioxidants and they help in improving our brainpower.
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) are the vegetables that boost the brain power big time. They contain choline (a vitamin B) that known for supporting brain development.
Fruits and vegetables also contain antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein, which protect the body against the ultraviolet rays and also boost your brainpower.
Some of us are not very fond of veggies and fruits but increasing your brainpower is a pretty great argument, right?
Eating whole grains will help in supplying energy to the brain. To be able to focus on our daily activities, we need a steady and adequate supply of energy which is transported as glucose from our bloodstream to the brain.
The vital point is to ensure that natural whole grain are consumed as the essential vitamins and minerals are not present in refined grains, thereby making the grain not to boost our brain power.
Read HERE why grains should still be consumed in moderation.
Lycopene is a color pigment and antioxidant present in tomatoes; it supports the brain function by removing free radicals that take part in the development of dementia.
Glucose is the primary fuel our brain needs for energy. Moreover, our brain can run on more than two types of fuel, one being ketoacids or ketones (ketone bodies), Ketones are a by-product of fat when glucose is converted to energy by the process known as ketosis.
Coconut oil is such a versatile product with nearly unlimited benefits that I have dedicated a separate article to it. Read HERE
Celery is a good source of luteolin, a plant compound that calm inflammation in our brain. Inflammation is a main cause of neurodegeneration.
Experiments have shown that Luteolin can cause lower rates of memory loss in mice, and older mice that consume foods supplemented with luteolin improve on memory and learning tasks. Peppers and carrots are also good sources of luteolin.
The great thing is that people who make changes to their diet notice the extra power and that they can concentrate better within days.